Second half goals from Alan Forrest and Josh Mullin saw the Lions come from behind to beat Alloa Athletic 2-1 and make it 6 points from 6 in our opening pair of Betfred Cup clashes.
It was very much a game of two halves with the Livingston looking well below par in a first half in which the Wasps produced numerous neat passing moves. But it was certainly a very different story after the break with the hosts being dominant from the first whistle to last.
Gary Holt handed a debut to striker Emmanuel-Thomas as he made six changes to the starting line-up that had won convincingly against Edinburgh City in the midweek.
As well as Emmanuel-Thomas, in came Nicky Devlin, Efe Ambrose, Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, Marvin Bartley and Craig Sibbald in place of Scott Tiffoney, Jack McMillan, Jon Guthrie, Jack Fitzwater, Jason Holt and Scott Robinson.
After a debut brace in midweek, Josh Mullin created the first chance of the game, scooping the ball over the bar from eight yards out on 10 minutes after Alloa defender Scott Taggart failed to deal with a free-kick.
Peter Grant’s men looked up for the challenge of going toe-to-toe with a top flight outfit and there was no real surprise when they took a 30th minute lead.
Max Stryjek produced a great one-handed stop after Liam Dick’s shot was deflected and Robert Thomson was the quickest to react as he bundled the rebound over the line, despite best efforts of Stryjek and with the help of the underside of the crossbar.
The Lions would almost grab an immediate equaliser when Taylor-Sinclair got on the end of a Mullin cross but Neil Parry did well to save with his feet.
When Livi did get the ball in the net, it was disallowed by referee Alan Muir. Emmanuel-Thomas thought he’d equalised shortly before half-time as he brilliantly flicked a Mullin corner into the bottom corner but Sibbald was adjudged to have blocked the goalkeeper’s line of sight from an offside position.
The frustration levels only increased when Devlin was booked after being bundled over in the box despite clear contact. Admittedly, perhaps not enough to deem a foul but certainly enough to take Devlin to ground.
The equaliser would arrive just 23 seconds in the second half when Marvin Bartley teed up Emmanuel-Thomas who cut inside his marker from the right and curled a left footed effort that was pushed out by Parry – only for the in-form Alan Forrest to roll the ball into the empty net for his fourth goal of the season and to haul the Lions back level.
Only four minutes later, the Lions took the lead after a punched clearance from Parry landed to Mullin just outside the box and his looped effort into the danger area dropped into the net, giving the Lions full control of the tie.
Emmanuel-Thomas and Alan Forrest both came close to extending that lead with Parry saving well from a JET header before Forrest fired against the crossbar after some terrific footwork to create the shooting opportunity.
Not getting a third goal always meant there was a chance for the visitors to nick a draw and Kevin Cawley forced a smart save from Stryjek from the edge of the box.
That would prove to be the final chance of the game though as the Lions made it 4 wins on the spin and a maximum return from the opening two Betfred Cup ties.
Up next, the visit of Kilmarnock on Saturday.
Livingston: Stryjek, Devlin ▊, Ambrose, Taylor-Sinclair ▊, Serrano, Bartley, Sibbald, Forrest, Pittman, Mullin (⇔ Holt 78), Emmanuel-Thomas
Subs not used: Maley, Fitzwater, McMillan, Guthrie, Robinson, Poplatnik, Lokotsch, Tiffoney
Goals: Forrest (46), Mullin (50)
Alloa Athletic: Parry, Dick, Lynch, Taggart, Robertson, Grant ▊, Hatherington, Malcolm (⇔ Scougall 61), Trouten, Murray (⇔ Cawley 52), Thomson (⇔ Buchanan 51)
Subs not used: Wilson, Gilhooly, Connelly, O’Donnell, Williamson, Evans
Goals: Thomson (31)
Referee: Alan Muir
Match Report: Dave Black